Thursday, Nov. 29, 2007 | 7:03 a.m.
It had the feel of cocktail hour at a high school reunion as a relaxed O.J. Simpson kibitzed with members of the media in the hour preceding his Wednesday arraignment at the Regional Justice Center.
As his lawyers - and those representing two co-defendants - met behind closed doors with Judge Jackie Glass, the former NFL star mingled with the crowd of about 35 journalists, some of whom had seen him through other criminal cases.
One of them was Associated Press special correspondent Linda Deutsch, who covered the trial in the mid-1990s when Simpson was acquitted of charges that he killed his estranged wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.
"Happy holidays," Simpson said, walking from the long defendants' table to the courtroom's third pew to greet Deutsch. The two then discussed Thanksgiving as a particularly good day for football, and Simpson cheerily detailed his son's athletic prowess.
After conferring with his bodyguard, he had a spirited conversation with a man whose bleached blond hair somehow outdazzled Simpson's Hollywood smile.
All in all, it appeared to be a relatively easy morning for Simpson, who is familiar with courtrooms and related procedures. The Wednesday arraignment took about 10 minutes. It involved pleading not guilty and waiting to hear the start date of his trial, which is April 7.
Simpson, along with two co-defendants, was arrested in September on charges of kidnapping and armed robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers in a Palace Station hotel room.
Deutsch later said Simpson is under orders from his attorneys not to talk.
That, apparently, doesn't preclude him from gabbing about Turkey Day sports or his son's triumphs.